Michael Symon's Ultimate Seasoning Hack To Curb Overmixed Burgers

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Grilling season doesn't officially begin until Memorial Day, but that shouldn't stop you from taking advantage of the warmer temps and grilling up a hamburger. According to USA Today, Americans consume an estimated 50 billion hamburgers annually and 20 billion hot dogs, with the peak time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The bulk of hot dog consumption, roughly 19 million hot dogs, will be consumed at ballparks nationwide as Major League Baseball (MLB) begins its season.

While neither protein is considered a healthy meal option, Americans clearly favor burgers, consuming 156 per person yearly. More versatile than the hot dog, burgers can be made from any meat and topped with more than ketchup and mustard. Popular burger toppings range from classic American cheese or salty bacon to a runny fried egg or hot, creamy spinach artichoke dip (trust us, it's fantastic).

Whether you like a thin, fully cooked burger or a thick, still mooing patty, the size and thickness come down to personal preference. Before you can grill or top your burger; however, the raw meat must be properly seasoned and formed into a patty. Chef Michael Symon has a seasoning hack to avoid overmixing, which creates tough burgers.

Add sausage for best results

Burgers, like any other recipe, should be seasoned at every step of the cooking process. While they are relatively simple to prepare, overmixing the ground meat while incorporating the seasonings can lead to tough burgers. Michael Symon replaces half the ground beef with pork sausage to combat that common mistake.

Using a 1:1 ratio, Symon adds ¾ pounds of hot Italian sausage to equal parts of the ground beef chuck when making the cheeseburgers featured in his cookbook, "5 in 5." Italian sausage is seasoned with fennel seeds, salt, paprika, garlic, and red pepper flakes eliminating the need for additional seasoning inside the patty. Symon gently mixes the two types of meat until combined, shaping four burgers about a half-inch thick. Before cooking, the burgers are seasoned outside with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Since pork has been added, he cooks the burgers through or well done. Not only does the sausage flavor the burger, but it also adds texture. Sweet Italian sausage can be substituted for those who can't stand the heat. Different types of sausage, like chorizo, andouille, and longganisa, can be used to change the flavor of the burgers. In addition, pork sausage can be substituted with chicken sausage if you opt for a leaner, chicken, or turkey patty.